“Whiplash”

By Hayden

Best Supporting Actor, Best Writing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Picture are just a few of the many nominations the movie, “Whiplash” received. Directed by Damien Chazelle, this critically acclaimed drama was one of the best films of 2014. “Whiplash” starred Miles Teller as Andrew, a college student desperately trying to make it big in the music industry. Andrew is an extremely talented drummer, but he is the back-up drummer in the “JV” college band. J.K. Simmons’ performance as Fletcher, Andrew’s conductor, landed him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Whiplash starts out by introducing Andrew while he is playing the drums. He is visited by Fletcher, the conductor of the most esteemed college band in the United States. Fletcher tells Andrew that he is looking for players, but immediately verbally abuses Andrew and walks out while Andrew played the drums for him. Andrew eventually does become a part of Fletcher’s band, but quickly realizes that it’s going to be much harder than he expected. The movie goes on to explore Andrew’s journey as a drummer and what he believes he must sacrifice to truly be one of the greats.

This movie is rated “R” for extreme language, blood, and some very offensive and inappropriate comments, almost exclusively made by Fletcher. Ever seen “Full Metal Jacket”? If you have, you can compare Fletcher to the drill sergeant, except worse. Fletcher takes no shame in verbally and physically abusing everyone in his band to make them achieve their best. This movie makes you ask, “Where is the line?” When does pushing someone go too far? Fletcher doesn’t believe that there is one, and that is the underlying theme throughout the whole movie.

“Whiplash” is an incredible film. Not only does it have many philosophical messages and questions, but it has incredible music. Even if you are not a fan of dramatic movies, this is simply a must-see for its incredible music, especially the drumming. Whiplash was one of the best movies of 2014!

4 popcorn kernels

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“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

By Hayden

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was one of the biggest movies of the
summer. It grossed over 200 million dollars in the United States and over 700 million worldwide. This movie is the sequel to the critically acclaimed film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and begins a few years afterward. These two movies are prequels to the original “Planet of the Apes” movies. They show the fall of humanity and how that led to the rise of the apes. This film includes Andy Serkis as Caesar, the leader of the apes, Jason Clarke as Malcolm, a human who wants peace between the humans and the apes, and Gary Oldman as Dreyfus, the leader of a colony of humans who are desperate for supplies.

SPOILER ALERT:
At the end of “Rise”, a virus is spread around the world that kills almost all of the human population. The only humans that survive are the ones that were genetically immune to the disease. A group of humans, led by Dreyfus (Oldman), have created a base in San Francisco. They have electricity, but it is quickly running out. Dreyfus sends Malcolm (Clarke) to a nearby dam to try to obtain some electricity. Malcolm runs into Caesar (Serkis) and his colony of apes. Caesar sends Malcolm and his group back to their base, and the apes terrify many of the humans. The rest of the movie goes on from there, with Malcolm trying to keep peace between the apes and the humans.

This movie was incredible. Not a single real ape was used in the film, which shows just how great the special effects are. The movie gives us an inside glimpse into the ape colony. The apes speak through sign language, so there is some reading involved, but that does not take away from the movie or make it boring. “Dawn” has a lot more action than its predecessor, which makes it much more entertaining to watch. The movie takes you from shocking moment to shocking moment and never ceases to amaze. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is definitely a much watch, and it’s one of the best movies of the year!

4 popcorn kernels

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“Guardians of the Galaxy”

By Hayden

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is finally here! This great movie has grossed more than any other film this year, making more than $330 million worldwide. Directed by James Gunn, this movie starred big names like Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Starlord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), and Glenn Close (Nova Prime). It also featured the voices of Bradley Cooper (Rocket) and Vin Diesel (Groot). Even though it is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means it exists in the same movie realm as “Captain America,” “Iron Man,” “Hulk,” and “Thor,” it does not have any ties with those characters. This movie stands alone and received critical acclaim for being unlike any other superhero movie before.

The movie starts out with Peter Quill in the hospital, visiting his mother. She is very sick, and dies within minutes of the movie starting. Overcome with grief, Peter runs outside, only to be taken away by an alien ship. The movie then skips forward years into the future, where Peter has adopted the name, “Starlord,” and has become a thief. He is eventually arrested and meets up with Gamora, an assassin, Drax, a ruthless and sometimes air-headed powerhouse, Rocket, a raccoon with an attitude, and Groot, a tree-like character, who only knows how to say the words, “I am Groot.” Together, they discover that Thanos, the most powerful being in the galaxy, has enlisted the ruthless Ronan to collect an artifact infinity stone and bring it to him. When the team discovers the imminent danger that the stone would pose in the wrong hands, they put their differences aside and team up to save the galaxy.

This movie still has all the charm, wit, and humor that all the other Marvel movies before it have had, and much more! I was incredibly surprised by how great this movie was. It is without a doubt one of the best action/sci-fi films to come out this year.

4 popcorn kernels

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“If I Stay”

By Emily

“If I Stay,” based on the novel written by Gayle Forman and published in 2009, was released November 8th on DVD and Blu-Ray. This movie grossed $50 million and was directed by R. J. Cutler. The cast includes Chloë Grace Moretz (Mia) and Jamie Blackley (Mia’s boyfriend, Adam), as well as Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, and Jakob Davies (Mia’s close family members).

This movie begins with Mia and her family planning out their snow day, just a normal day together. As they are on their way to visit their grandparents, Mia and her family face a traumatic car crash, and soon, her whole world is turned upside down. After waking up, Mia looks around and sees an array of flashing lights and ambulances. When she sees the unconscious bodies of herself and her family members lying on the snowy ground and then later being carried away to the emergency room, Mia realizes that she is not in her physical body. No one can see her, but she can see everything. She follows her family to the hospital and is met by friends and family anxiously waiting to see what is going on. They cannot see Mia in this state, but only her physical, unconscious self. After hearing some heart-wrenching news, Mia must make a decision.

Mia, the shy, talented, violinist prodigy, whose hopes are set on going to Juilliard, must decide whether she wants to stay, or go. She spends the length of the movie reliving and remembering all of the times she has had with her family, Adam (her boyfriend), and Kat (her best friend). She focuses on Adam and all the changes that have happened because of him, and the argument they recently had due to his band and her decision to go to school far way. Throughout this process, Adam ends up showing up at the hospital, canceling his show, just to see Mia. Mia is torn on whether to stay and pursue her dream of going to Juilliard, living her life with Adam, and holding on, or whether to go and not have to deal with the loss she’s going to have to face and the heartache involved in that.

This drama will take you through a roller coaster of emotions as you are kept in suspense, wondering if Mia will choose to hold on or let go. The movie is by far a “chick-flick,” and I definitely would recommend it! I personally read the book, and though the film did not follow it exactly (movies based on books never really do), it still kept the same idea and details. I wasn’t disappointed in the least. So grab some tissues, and be ready for the sweetest, most emotional romantic drama ever.

3.5 popcorn kernels

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